Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch (ĕd´värt mŏŏngk), 1863–1944, Norwegian painter and graphic artist. He studied in Oslo and under Bonnat in Paris, traveled in Europe, and lived in Berlin from 1892 to 1908. He abandoned impressionism and in the 1890s, from a profound personal sense of isolation, visually examined such primal themes as birth, death, thwarted love, sex, fear, and anxiety. Stricken by tragedy (his mother and favorite sister died young, another sister was psychotic, and he feared for his sanity), Munch transformed his trauma into an exploration of universal themes, creating figurative images that are sometimes violent, sometimes tranquil and sorrowful. He also executed a masterful series of self-portraits. Munch's emotionally charged style is recognized as being of primary importance to the birth of German expressionism. Also during the 1890s, Munch's most productive period, he made a number of powerful and often shocking woodcuts, developing a new technique of direct and forceful cutting, often using color and the grain of the wood as expressive elements; these helped revive creative activity in the medium.

Among Munch's strongest and best-known works are The Scream (1893) and a calmer version of the same subject executed in pastels (1895), Vampire (1894), and The Kiss (1895). Reaction to his stark and sometimes fearsome images caused the closing of his first major exhibition held in Berlin in 1892. In 1909, after a severe mental illness, he returned from Germany to Norway, where he painted murals for the Univ. of Oslo and for an Oslo chocolate factory. His painting became brighter of palette and less introverted until the 1920s, when he again was moved to portray his dreadful anguish, as in his his haunting self-portrait, The Night Wanderer (1923–24). All but a few of Munch's paintings, e.g. Summer Night's Dream (The Voice) (1893, Boston Mus. of Fine Arts), are in Norwegian collections, particularly the Munch Museum and the National Museum, both in Oslo.

See Munch: In His Own Words (2001), ed. by P. E. Tojner; The Private Journals of Edvard Munch (2005), ed. by J. G. Holland; biographies by O. Benesch (tr. 1960) and S. Prideaux (2005); studies by A. Moen (3 vol., 1956–58), W. Timm (tr. 1969), J. P. Hodin (1972), T. M. Messer (1973), G. Woll (2001), K. McShine, ed. (2006), and J. Lloyd, ed. (2016).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Edvard Munch: Selected full-text books and articles

Edvard Munch By Frederick B. Deknatel; Johan H. Langaard Chanticleer Press, 1950
Edvard Munch: A Selection of His Prints from American Collections By William S. Lieberman; Edvard Munch Museum of Modern Art, 1957
Edvard Munch and the Physiology of Symbolism By Shelley Wood Cordulack Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002
The Munch-Ibsen Connection: Exposing A Critical Myth By Templeton, Joan Scandinavian Studies, Vol. 72, No. 4, Winter 2000
The Scarlet-Clad Woman: Munch's Influence in A Fringe of Leaves By Hewitt, Helen Verity Australian Literary Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1, May 1999
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Letters of the Great Artists: From Blake to Pollock By Richard Friedenthal Random House, vol.2, 1963
Librarian's tip: "Edvard Munch to His Aunt Karen Kjolstad" begins on p. 159
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Symbolism By Robert Goldwater Westview Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: "Munch" begins on p. 216
FREE! Scandinavian Art By Emil Hannover; Jens Thiis; Carl Laurin American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1922
Librarian's tip: "Munch" begins on p. 580
The Expressionists: A Survey of Their Graphic Art By Carl Zigrosser G. Braziller, 1957
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Edvard Munch begins on p. 9
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